Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
January 6, 2021
We Lift Up In Prayer
All those dealing with COVID diagnoses.

Our churches currently in pastoral transition.

Our Mission Co-Workers:
Lucy Der-Garabedian serving in Lebanon.
Cathy Chang and family serving in the Philippines.
Michael and Rachel Ludwig serving in Niger.
Upcoming Ordination and Commissioning Anniversaries:
The Rev. Rich Lawther (1/4) - 45 Years - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Scott Kroener (1/19) - 35 Years - Pastor of Birch Run-Taymouth
The Rev. Alex Peterson (1/22) - Pastor of Lapeer-First
The Rev. Elizabeth Stilwell (1/22) - Member-At-Large
The Rev. Dawn Russell (2/9) - Pastor of Linden-First
The Rev. Larry McMellen (2/12) - 60 Years - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Mary Anne Evans-Justin (2/25) - 25 Years - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Chris Moody (2/25) - 20 Years - Member-At-Large

We ask that you consider including these requests each week in your bulletin and/or newsletter.
 
We also encourage everyone to send a card or e-mail or make a phone call to those listed. Sometimes a small gesture creates a big smile. 

Contact information for anyone on this list may be obtained by calling the presbytery office at 989-799-7481 or replying to this email.
From the Lions’ Den
Dan Saperstein
In my last column, I asked pleadingly, “Is it 2021 yet?” Well now it is 2021 and the change in the calendar has not yet delivered a change in our circumstances. But, perhaps in the spirit of new year’s resolutions our attitudes might start to change. I will begin by recognizing gifts of grace and mercy that came to us in 2020 despite the challenges we have all faced. So here is my list of “20 things from 2020 for which I am grateful”:

  1. The incredible leadership, creativity, resilience, and leadership by the pastoral leaders and sessions of our congregations who rose to meet the pandemic challenge with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.
  2. The patience, flexibility, and faithfulness of our congregations who have remained steadfast in worship, in care for one another, and in mission to their communities.
  3. The Presbytery staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and maintained their sense of humor while working remotely for the past ten months.
  4. The generosity of our churches and members who during a financial crisis sustained their church budgets and contributed 100% of per capita assessments and over 100% of our mission budget.
  5. The generosity of our Presbytery, its Council, and Trustees who liberated tens of thousands of dollars in COVID grants, technology grants, and emergency pastoral assistance.
  6. The response of congregations around the denomination and across denominational lines to the Midland Flood.
  7. The reunion of Saginaw Korean Presbyterian Church and Somang Korean Church of Saginaw to form Michigan Nanum Presbyterian Church after over 30 years of separation.
  8. The heroism of front-line healthcare and essential workers who literally risked their lives to save others and keep us supplied with essentials.
  9. Public health officials and politicians who defied political pressure to provide reliable data and competent and wise guidance.
  10. Scientists, researchers, and volunteers whose work in developing vaccines promises to shorten the recovery and save millions of lives, and leaders like Dr. Lisa Allgood and Jon Baker who helped us to understand the science and its implications for our churches.
  11. The awakening of millions of Americans to the evil of systemic racism with a determination to repair broken social and political institutions that perpetuate racial injustice.
  12. Poll workers who helped our nation to have a free, fair, and peaceful election in which record numbers of people voted despite health risks, and public servants who protected the integrity of the election.
  13. Artists of all kinds who keep producing works that inspire us and bring us joy.
  14. Meeting technology like Zoom that has kept us connected remotely, and the ability of “old dogs” in our congregations to learn “new tricks” to embrace the technology.
  15. The work of the General Assembly Administrative Commission for the Synod of the Covenant who have addressed difficult issues and renewed our connectional church in Michigan and Ohio.
  16. Transitional Synod Executive Chip Hardwick, who has restored joy, fellowship, and a servant spirit to Synod relationships. 
  17. A renewed appreciation for simple pleasures, from baking to walking to reading to family games.
  18. A renewed appreciation for the joy of in-person Christian fellowship and congregational singing, which we have missed so that we might protect one another.
  19. Social media like Facebook and YouTube, which despite their flaws and abuses have enabled us to stay connected to one another and proclaim the gospel in new ways.
  20. And, personally, the opportunity to participate in my daughter’s ordination to the Ministry of the Word and Sacrament, a well-timed pre-pandemic trip in January to experience a world-class Monet exhibition, and the opportunity to serve the Presbytery of Lake Huron for another year.

The year 2020 was, for most people, a dumpster-fire of a year. Yet even in the worst circumstances, God provides grace and mercy to sustain us. And God will continue to do so in 2021, no matter what the future may hold.

Faithfully, 

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Sharing Milestone
Sessions, Congregations Achieve Milestone of Sharing

The Sessions and congregations of the Presbytery of Lake Huron accomplished a tremendous feat of generosity as 2020 came to an end. Despite major challenges in maintaining worship, fellowship, and mission, our churches have remitted 100% of their 2020 per capita assessments and have provided mission gifts exceeding 100% of the Presbytery Mission pledge budget.
This is a remarkable achievement even in good times; to have accomplished it in a year of economic uncertainty is astounding. Your generosity and faithfulness not only helped the Presbytery maintain its own mission commitments, but also helped support over $60,000 in COVID grants and made it possible to reduce the per capita assessment rate for 2021.
Congratulations and thanks to all the congregations of the Presbytery for your extraordinary generosity!
Synod Requesting Feedback
Leaders with the Synod of the Covenant want to help congregational leaders proclaim the Gospel and minister to their community members during these difficult, changing times of the pandemic.
To that end, the Synod is conducting a brief survey to determine whether the virtual Advent worship series has been helpful to congregations and if a similar set of services should be provided for Lent. Click here to complete the survey by Friday, January 8, 2021.
Please note that this survey is being conducted by the Synod of the Covenant, and its leaders want to consider feedback from as many congregations in the member presbyteries as possible.
Questions about the survey content or how the information will be used should be directed to Chip Hardwick, Interim Executive of the Synod of the Covenant, at chip@synodofthecovenant.org
PDA Training Tomorrow
As a service to PCUSA congregations and nonprofits, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is leading a training session on FEMA’s 2021 Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).

This highly competitive grant program provides resources for nonprofit and faith-based groups to strengthen their preparedness for, and property security against, terrorist attacks, including active shooting incidents. In 2019, the program allocated 60 million dollars to more than 500 nonprofit and faith-based organizations, including five PCUSA churches.

PDA staff and volunteers will facilitate the informative and practical training. Previous Presbyterian awardees will also be available to tell their story and answer questions. 

The training is set for Thursday, January 7, 2021, 3:30-5:00PM Eastern.

If you are interested in learning more about the grant program and what the application process entails, please register in advance for the training at
https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMudu6prz8vGN3T9S9Jg_N8CI2kYh2RBdHq. The training will be recorded for those unable to attend.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please use the name of your church or organization rather than your personal name. This will help PDA in its follow-up correspondence.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 
Camping Scholarships Available
A donor at First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven, Michigan, wants to provide generous financial assistance to children desiring to go to a Christian camp. This year the program is being offered to all the churches in the four presbyteries in Michigan - Detroit, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Mackinac. If you are willing, we'd like to have you offer this financial assistance to the children and youth of your church. Please make copies of the application and distribute them among those eligible for the funding. 

Here are the parameters of this program: 

  • The purpose of the camp must be Christian faith development.
  • It is open to any child or youth with a connection to your church.
  • The camper's family is responsible for paying the camp registration fee (at a minimum).
  • A family can pay more if they choose.
  • The donor desires that children will do work around the house or community to earn the funds for the registration fee.
  • This program will pay the remaining portion of the camp. The expectation is that this will not exceed $500.00 per camper.
  • This financial assistance comes with no income requirements. The donor wants children to go to Christian camp without restriction.
  • The donor expects that the home church will pray for their campers in person prior to attending camp.
  • Following the camp there will be a follow-up letter for reflection by the camper on his or her experience. This letter will be shared with the donor.

Click here for more details and the application.
Join A Prayer Study Group
From our Presbytery Moderator, and Interim Pastor of Saginaw-Second the Rev. Philomena Ofori-Nipaah:

I am looking for clergy and lay leaders to participate in the 3 month prayer project for my Doctor of Ministry project. It will be similar to what I shared during the September meeting. The meeting will be virtual via Zoom in a total of 5 times lasting for 30 minutes. All who are interested should contact Philomena at either: nhyira5@gmail.com or 301-974-7879.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is an outline of what the Prayer Study will look like, each participant will be assigned to a group for their daily practice, the Nehemiah’s Prayer group (A), The Lord’s Prayer group (B) and Personal Prayer group (C). Besides participants daily prayer, there will Zoom check in every other week.

Group A-Nehemiah’s Prayer Outline: Nehemiah 1:1-11
Participants will use this format to pray for 5-10 minutes daily.

  1. Praise God
  2. Confession of sins I/we to God
  3. Promised of God with humility
  4. Petition for needs I/we to God
 
Group B-The Lord’s Prayer Outline: Matthew 6:9-13
Participants will use this format to pray for 5-10 minutes daily. The participants will choose one petition numbered below to pray slowly for the whole day, at any time during the day.

  1. Our Father in Heaven, Hollowed be thy Name
  2. Your Kingdom come
  3. your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
  4. Give us this day our daily bread
  5. Forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors
  6. And do not bring us to the time of trial
  7. But rescue us from evil, Amen.

Group C-Personal Prayer
Participants in this group will use a prayer of their choice for 5-10 minutes daily
MDHHS Community and Faith-Based Programs
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recognizes the importance and necessity of viable community and faith-based relationships to fulfill its mission to promote and protect the health, wellness, and safety of Michigan residents. The Office of Community and Faith Engagement and the Community and Faith-Based Initiative on Foster Care and Adoption lead MDHHS' efforts to build and support partnerships with community and faith-based organizations to better serve the children and adults that live in their communities.

The Office of Community and Faith Engagement (OCFE) promotes collaboration between government, community organizations, and faith leaders to improve the quality of life for Michigan residents, with specific efforts to inform organizations of federal/state resources and grants, and also to convene community and faith leaders to support program areas that directly impact Michigan's most vulnerable adults, children, and families.

The Community and Faith-Based Initiative on Foster Care and Adoption (CFBI) seeks to build partnerships with local community leaders, business representatives, and faith leaders to meet the needs of foster and adoptive children and their families, by promoting awareness of the need for quality foster and adoptive parents and connecting children and youth to supportive resources and relationships.

We welcome individuals, community leaders, business representatives and faith leaders of all religions to learn more and join our efforts. Together, we can provide opportunities, instill hope, and empower Michiganders to thrive.

Click here to visit their webpage.
From An Honorably Retired Member of Presbytery
Retired Pastor, Dale Swihart has written a book of poetic meditations, paired with some of his photographs. He has been writing these blank verse poems since the start of the pandemic as a therapeutic way of coping. He has also been sharing them via email and Facebook. The book is entitled, Catching Falling Stars: Poems for COVID and Beyond. It contains the first three months of writings. Volume 2 is in the works. The book can be purchased on Amazon by clicking here.

You can contact Dale at daleswihart@gmail.com.
NEXTChurch is Free is 2021
BREAKING, BLESSING, BUILDING
A Call For The Common Good
A FREE Live-Streamed Gathering for ALL Church Leaders
March 5-7, 2021

COVID-19, a pandemic of racism in the United States, economic distress. Our reality right now helps us know that things need to change for the good of us all.

What if people like you and me could gather together from all over the world, from all kinds of different churches and denominations, from all different walks of life?

What if church leaders (YOU, not just your pastor) could connect with other church leaders to learn together, be inspired by one another, and be challenged to grow?

What if we gathered together in such a way that inspired us to act so the Church and the world were never the same again?

Despite the physical space that separates us these days, we believe our virtual togetherness can make all the difference. Will you join us March 5-7 for the 2021 NEXT Church National Gathering as we Break, Bless, and Build: A Call for the Common Good?

Click here for more information and to register.
Resources Regarding COVID-19
We have set up a page with numerous resources to help you navigate through this challenging time.

Among other things, our COVID-19 page includes information regarding:

  • Virtual Worship and Live Streaming
  • Zoom and online meetings
  • Funerals
  • Online giving
  • Grants and loans
  • Denominational resources
  • Mental wellness
  • Re-opening considerations

If there are other items/resources that you would to see added please contact Staci Percy at spercy@presbylh.org.